Re: His/Her v. Their

Subject: Re: His/Her v. Their
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2012 15:26:03 -0700

On 10/26/2012 3:04 PM, Ben Davies wrote:

The original said: "A good student always does his homework"
My sentence said: "A good student always does homework"

You want to know which students?

Your sentence is awkward and I suspect you will not understand why.

Good students do their own homework. The "own" is a logical implication.

"Own" may be an unnecessary qualifier, but "their" is not and the use of that qualifier more accurately matches the original sentence, which was the goal of the rewrite. In real world examples, writers do often encounter passages that may require qualifiers that seem unnecessary to the writer, but certain guidelines may bind writers to these writing constructions. The purpose of the test is defeated when the context of the sentence is changed.

Students don't typically run around doing other people's homework.

What sort of school did you go to where students were never found to have copied or bought somebody else's homework?

Nothing is suiting my theory here. I re-wrote the sentence without using "his", "her", or "their". I thought that was the challenge?

The challenge was to rewrite the sentence without gender, while maintaining the meaning of the sentence with all of its content that includes qualifiers.

You said (in your last message):
...
I'm sorry Lauren, but I completely disagree.

I knew you would, but I hoped you would understand what I was saying about how you changed the meaning to get what you want.

I used the word calm, because it doesn't really matter what the secretary feels inside. What matters is how her actions are perceived in the real world.

You made an assumption and completely ignored any other context that the phrase may rely on. It is impossible to determine from the sentence if the context is workplace behavior, secretarial training, or an example group session therapy.

Is the context a secretary's behavior or a method for the secretary to control behavior? Your rewrite can only apply to the former context without ambiguity, since in the latter context your rewrite does not provide any clear coping mechanism while the original sentence and my rewrite both provide a coping mechanism.

Ben, you seem to favor a style of writing that says, "do the job," while Leonard and I have provided examples that say, "how to do the job." This is what I think you are missing in this entire discussion.


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References:
His/Her v. Their: From: Becca
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Ben Davies
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Porrello, Leonard
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Ben Davies
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Porrello, Leonard
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Ben Davies
Re: His/Her v. Their: From: Lauren
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Ben Davies
Re: His/Her v. Their: From: Lauren
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Ben Davies

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